This dish is fairly straightforward, with thoroughly enjoyable savory flavors. I appreciate the contrast in textures, with the creamy burrata cheese nestled amongst the springy tangles of spaghetti squash, both of which are topped with homemade parsley breadcrumbs. An added bonus is the fact that the kale pesto and the parsley breadcrumbs can both be made in advance. —Josh Cohen
cubed day-old bread
loosely packed parsley leaves
Olive oil (split three ways: 1 1/2 teaspoons, plus 1/2 cup, plus extra for roasting the spaghetti squash)
Preheat the oven to 300° F. Place the cubed bread on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet, and dry the bread in the oven for approximately 1 hour. To test if the bread is ready to remove from the oven, break a cube in half. If it is completely crunchy and dry, it is ready. If it is still soft in the middle, cook it longer. You are making breadcrumbs, so the bread must be completely dry and crisp. If the bread starts to get too dark and toasty, turn the oven down to 275° F. When the bread is done cooking, cool it on a rack, and transfer it to a food processor. Pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the parsley leaves along with 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil, and pulse until the parsley is blended in with the breadcrumbs. Transfer to a sealed container and set aside. These breadcrumbs can be made several days ahead of time and stored in a cool, dry place.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large mixing bowl ready with ice water. Blanch the kale for 1 to 2 minutes, until it is wilted. Transfer the wilted kale to the ice water. When the kale is chilled, remove it from the ice water. As you remove the kale from the ice water, squeeze out all excess water. Take an extra minute on this step and really do a good job of squeezing out all the excess water from the kale. This will improve the taste and texture of your pesto.
Transfer the kale to a food processor. Add the Parmigiano, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of olive oil. Pulse in the food processor until it looks like pesto. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pulse. Taste. Adjust as necessary with more salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice. Set the finished kale pesto aside. This pesto can be made a day or two ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Drizzle olive oil over the flesh of the squash so that it is barely coated with oil. Season with salt. Place the squash flesh-side down on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Roast the squash for approximately 50 minutes, until the flesh feels tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the squash from the oven, and when it is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the flesh of the squash. As you scrape the flesh of the squash, it should loosen and look like tangles of noodles. Transfer these tangles of squash to a large mixing bowl. Discard the skin of the squash. Toss the squash with the kale pesto. Taste it, and adjust with salt and/or lemon as necessary.
To serve, arrange small nests of squash on a plate, leaving some negative space. Tear small pieces of burrata cheese and place the pieces of cheese in the empty spaces on the plate. Sprinkle a light dusting of breadcrumbs over the dish. Save any extra breadcrumbs for another use. Garnish with a thin drizzle of olive oil. Serve and enjoy.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, I'm perpetually inspired by the diversity of foods that exist in this city. I love shopping at the farmer's market, making ingredients taste like the best versions of themselves, and rolling fresh pasta.